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The Offensive Subtype of Taijin-Kyofu-Sho in New York City: The Phenomenology and Treatment of a Social Anxiety Disorder

J Clin Psychiatry 1996;57(11):523-527

Background: Taijin-kyofu-sho (TKS) is thought to be a common, culture-bound disorder of social anxiety in Japan and Korea. Its phenomenology has been noted to overlap with that of social phobia. The “offensive type” of TKS, which has no direct parallel in Western classification, is characterized by a fear of offending others in social situations, which leads to social avoidance. There has been only one case of offensivetype TKS reported in the United States, and this case was not regarded as a variant of social phobia.

Method: The phenomenology and treatment of six patients who presented to New York City anxiety disorders research clinic psychiatrists with the offensive type of TKS are described. Features of TKS are compared with those of social phobia, as described in Western countries. Treatment outcomes for four patients are discussed and compared with TKS treatment experience in Japan and Korea and with treatment outcome in social phobia.

Results: In this anxiety clinic sample, features of the offensive type of TKS showed much overlap with symptoms of social phobia. Only two of four treated patients in this TKS sample received adequate trials of medication known to be effective for social phobia, and one of the two improved significantly.

Conclusion: The offensive type of TKS may not be as culture-bound as previously thought. Further study is needed to determine whether such cases respond to medications and to cognitive-behavioral approaches that are effective for social phobia. How to classify the offensive type of TKS is uncertain, but social phobia should be considered in the differential diagnosis.